North East Open Studios – Twenty Years.

There was a time when I thought being married for twenty years was remarkable. But then my parents did forty, fifty and even sixty. That was remarkable…

Having started The North East Open Studios with a core of key (multi talented) people, I came off the steering committee in year 4/5. Niel Paton took over as chair just when NEOS was nominated for and received The Northern Lights award.

I have participated in the event every year since the start, rarely by myself, but mainly sharing my studio space with a variety of different creative people. We have had visitor numbers ranging from 49, with covid social distancing in 2020 and over 2000 visitors in 2012.

The North East Open Studio event was conceived in 2003 and with the benifit of great effort by an incredible number of people, it will be 20 years this year.

Each year a different dynamic.

Back on the committee again – with a really skillful and energetic group. It’s hard to believe we managed to kick it off with so little knowledge or professionalism. But we did – and I’m going to enjoy being part of the 20th year with all these generous and switched on, clever folk.


Trip To London…

Robertsbridge Station

First time in three years, on a train to meet up with painting buddy Sarah. It’s a splendid blue sky day. Wrap up warm but bright and sunny. We are meeting at Waterloo (under zee clock) and then heading for the RWS Bankside and Tate Modern.

Train Delayed.

Always have a sketch book handy. The back-lit station made a dramatic subject, the low lighting reducing detail and tones to almost black and white. I was discussing this with a class just a few days ago and will keep this sketch for another time.

January 2023

Three classes successfully delivered over three weeks. All with bonny participants, which means they really did give back to me in effort and enthusiasm, as good as I gave to them. I was feeling encouraged by the planning, because it is a genuine boost to have ideas for classes pinging in my head.

I am now putting together the materials and finessing the course plan, for a few days tutoring at West Dean. Watercolour Improvers. Looking forward to being back in Sussex with the challenge of a full class.

There is an exhibition at Pallant House that I really want to see while I’m there. It’s theme is images of Sussex, by a variety of visual artists. I am appreciating that I can actually do this, it most likely won’t be cancelled due to covid. I can feel the anziety of planning disappointment, that I (and others) have been experiencing, is actually clearing – like mist on a spring morning. The metaphorical sun is shining and confidence is returning.

NEW YEAR – new course – West Dean College.

Last year in December, we delivered the forth ‘Beginner Watercolour’ course and this February in the Orangery at West Dean. we will offer a well planned ‘Improvers’ follow on course.

I am looking forward to meeting some new and returning aspiring painters and to encourage, inspire and reveal more of the many wonders of Water Colour.

Water is my friend, watercolour my affinity paint, sharing my knowledge and passion is my pleasure.

Have a look at the West Dean Website. There are so many courses covering all manner of arts and craft.

My course dates are: 3rd – 6th February 2023

Happy Christmas…

Mixed Media

This year’s lead up to Christmas has been unpredictable. The weather challenging, snow last week, now biblical rain. The roads awash, streaming, overflowing. I find it exciting and annoying all in a heady mix. Expectations frustrated, hopes have been questioned and plans abandoned. None of it is really important: but on the other hand everything actually is…

Tunbridge Wells Hospital.

Mary Hunt

Mum was in hospital for most of December. Then the hospice in the weald. Then the cottage hospice. And now… Against all odds, she is happy in a care home near Battle. Can’t believe we have this unexpected calm. Feeling grateful.

Simply Printing Collagraphs.

Monoprint, monotype collagraph prints.

I am using images from a photographic book of Birds. It being one of three books that I have turned to for over 35 years, identifying forna and flora. The other two being Mushrooms and Wild Flowers, both by Roger Phillips who died quite recently. His obituary spoke of obsession but how else could you collect and photograph every type of flower in the British Isles without being close to the edge of mad obsession?

Roger Phillip’s books were a breakthrough for me with identifying wild flowers. The images laid out in chronological order month by month. So to find the flower, instead of going through petal shape, colour or hairy stem, you go to the area of the book covered by say May when you have seen the flower. Previously books of this kind were illustrated by hand, and so effected by not only the bias of the illustrators eye, but by the fashion of the time. Different periods are laced with this subtle cordial and the creator of the works will be unconsciously or conspicuously under its influence. (listen to recordings of famous symphonies from periods 30 years apart, they are defined and made different by their age)

Wall papers with motifs of flowers or birds are firmly stamped with their own decade, which is why they date. Blunt, the Queens art historian and curator, supposedly said ” it takes 25 years to spot a fake” the time it takes to reveal to the new auduence, the layer that was fashion at the time of creation. However clever the fakery.

The point of all this being… Photographs – even of a slightly wilted or feeble specimen are for me, a truer, cleaner image that I can understand and identify. My desire to classify and identify plants, birds or mushrooms is muddied by the illustrators lens even when beautifully rendered.

Then of course I affect the image with my own perspectives, the medium I use, the colours I choose and the composition.

Beginner Watercolour course – West Dean

West Dean College buildings and gardens hold a firm position on low grasslands just north of Chichester in West Sussex. The flint covered walls, an armour of decorative intent and the whole exstent of buildings have a particular solidity. Confident they face the smooth downland grazed neat by sheep. The fanciful gardens have their own unique style with shrubs and bushes carved into pod shapes, like clutches of eggs waiting to hatch. Everything in the estate is creative and woven together with the highest of skills.

I relish time there working with So many different people. My specialist course being Beginner Water Colours. Sharing the delight I have with this flowing medium is a pleasure, helping new people discovers the multitude of possibilities when mixing paint and water onto paper.

Some people come to reignite an interst and some are looking for new skills, some enjoy West Dean’s unique qualities and will try any course. All are keen to learn and my job is to assist, revive, encourage and share.

We usually work in the Orangery, a grand victorian glass house. Designed for cultivating exotic fruits, it now warms and grows creative ambition.

Last month it was being repaired so my group was given The Carrington Studios, which meant a daily wander through the fruit and vegetable gardens and glass houses. Delicious colours and shapes to feast the eyes upon. In December I have a booking for another Beginners class and in February we are offering an improvers watercolour class. This will give time and reason to sketch in and around these beautiful spaces.

And to explore some of the many possibilities of watercolours.

Painting Holiday, Le Marche, Italy/cancelled…

I have decided, with much regret… due to the uncertain economic climate, the risk of delays with travel and other personal factors, to pull out of this lovely booking. Madeline Jones has put a lot of time and effort with me over the last three years. The details of working together, the publicity and transport arrangements.

She has many courses that run successfully, I am really sorry not to be one of them next year.

It’s been such a busy, hot summer, now the dew is heavy and the air cool and damp, my thoughts go to next year. Hotel Leone has been in my diary for three years – next year I hope to actually get there from 23rd – 30th September. Italy is so beguiling, historic, romantic, the art, the food, the landscape, the architecture, the people, it really does have it all. Everything to satisfy the painters soul and body.

The link with details is on my website, but the hotel is so well featured if you put Hotel Leone on a search, it comes up everytime. A lovely boutique Hotel in a hilltop village called Moltelparo

It looks delightful and the views are classically breathtaking.

(And water lovers, it has a swimming pool, watercolour painters… Remember ‘Water is my friend!’ )


This the view out sketching last week. Blazing blue sky above wee huts and mighty power station.

Get in touch with me if you wish to find out more about Italy.

Sketching and Painting – Italy ’23

Is it possible to believe that we will go to Italy next year. It has been in the diary for such a time, though the date has changed. 2020, 21… 23.

Sketching Scotland

Most times sketching outdoors in the UK requires serious clothing – sturdy footwear upwards.

Stoic clothing in a glamorous location.

But still we do it, because it is so engaging.

Dungeness. Prospect Cottage.

To sit, observe, record, immerse, to sketch and paint.

Wind Rain and Shine

In the last two years I have been fortunate to work at a number of locations in Scotland and England and had such memorable times – I am hoping to go to Hotel Leone in 2023 with people who would like to experience a plein air sketching and painting. We can add beautiful Italian scenery, some warm sun and great food to our memories and sketch books.

Check the link on my website for details.

NEOS 2022

September 8th, one day left in which to transform the Studio at Mill Farm into a space fit for visitors.

Jeni Watson, Sarah Franklin and myself will be showing drawings and many other painted works.

In 1977 I went to art college with Jeni at Farnham in Surrey, we were not in the same faculty, but shared the same accomodation. (many years ago) – We have since painted together in different locations, with Sarah also in the more recent years. We join together now to show some of our sketches and paintings. Responses to the North Cornish coastline, explorations on Lewis and Harris, Morecombe Bay, Kishorn and Dunoon. From lavender fields in France, to quiet rural locations in Aberdeenshire.

Rain or shine, warm or chill – sketching outdoors and transforming into finished works in our homes or studios.

Painting: The Sunlit Garden.

We have enjoyed sharing times working together and now relish the opportunity to show what we have made of it.

Open Studio at Mill Farm, AB51 5NY from Saturday 9th September until Sunday 19th September. For details check the website or grab a Neos catalogue.